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Minnesota Gambling Laws

Gambling has a long and sordid history in the U.S., from the card games of the Wild West to bingo in church basements. Generally, state laws determine which types of gambling are legal, which are strictly prohibited, and how legal forms are gambling are regulated. States that heavily restrict gambling often do so for moral or societal reasons, while others have legalized certain types of gambling in order to extract tax revenue from activities that may otherwise take place in the shadows.

Rules differ from one state to the next, but every state regulates gambling in some fashion. In states that authorize gambling on Native American reservations, the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act provides the regulatory framework.

Minnesota Gambling Laws at a Glance

Minnesota has a number of casinos on Indian reservations, many of which offer Las Vegas-style gaming and entertainment. Other than that, the state restricts gambling to charitable games such as pull tabs, bingo, and raffles; the official Minnesota Lottery; pari-mutuel betting on horse races; games of skill (such as darts or billiards); and "private, social bets."

According to Minnesota law, a "private, social bet" is one that is not part of any organized or commercialized gambling enterprise. For example, nickel-ante card games among friends (played at a private residence) would be considered social bets and thus exempt from gambling prohibitions.

Those considered "games of skill" and also allowed under state law include games such as cribbage, skat, bridge, euchre, gin, and Texas Hold'em. The key to their legality is that the contests may not provide any direct benefit to the promoter. Additionally, dice games are allowed in bars and restaurants only if the prizes are limited to food or beverages.

Additional details of Minnesota gambling laws can be found in the following table:

Code Section 349.11 et seq.; 609.75 et seq.
Gambling Making a bet; possessing a gambling device without a license; and allowing a structure under one's control to be used as a gambling place.
Horse Racing/Off-Track Betting Licensed on-track pari-mutuel system of wagering on horse races legal.
Dog Racing/Off-Track Betting Not specified.
Casinos Allowed? Gaming on tribal land governed by Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Other Kinds of Gambling-Related Activities Allowed or Banned Pull-tabs; bingo; raffles; private social bets, paddlewheels; tipboards all considered lawful gambling. Possession of a gambling device in one's dwelling for one's own amusement and social skill games with prizes not in excess of $200 legal. Charitable organizations may be licensed to hold gambling activities.

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Minnesota gaming attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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